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Accepted Paper:

"Hymn to Liberty": Public Memory and Nationalist Mobilization in Post-Conflict Cyprus  

Author:

Victoria Fomina (University of Toronto)

Paper short abstract:

I explore memorial events for heroes staged by far-right and nationalist groups in Cyprus. These mobilizations reflect an attempt to revive the culture of public commemorative events that shaped the political subjectivities of postwar generation, but suffered a radical decline in the early 2000s.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores the relationship between the culture of anti-occupation protest that emerged in Cyprus in the wake of the 1974 Turkish invasion and the recent resurgence of nationalism on the island. It focuses on the cult of two hero-martyrs - Anastatios Isaac and Solomos Solomou who were killed in a confrontation with Turkish Cypriot protesters during a 1996 anti-occupation rally. I explore two collective mobilizations - the commemorative events organized by the far-right ELAM party and the bikers' Initiative in Memory of Isaac and Solomou. Denouncing the Cypriot government for its "betrayal" of national interests, ELAM members pledge to continue an active struggle against the occupation. By contrast, The Initiative presents a more moderate vision of nationalist protest in which anti-systemic rhetoric is successfully combined with state discourses of democracy. Despite these differences, the two movements' visions converge in their dream of national revival as well as in their rejection of a federal solution for the Cyprus conflict. Unlike other European populist movements that focus on the issue of poverty, the discourses of ELAM and The Initiative are often directed at exposing the moral dangers of wealth, as they blame the prosperity the island has attained over the past four decades for Greek Cypriot's political apathy and loss of the fighting spirit. I argue that these mobilizations reflect a nostalgia for and attempt to revive the culture of public commemorative events that shaped the political subjectivities of the postwar generation, but suffered a radical decline in the early 2000s.

Panel P131
Getting 'the Right' right: Comparative ethnographies of neo-nationalist movements in Europe